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Mediterranean countries commit to fight illegal fishing and preserve threatened ecosystems

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean adopts measures to increase transparency, protect threatened corals and preserve breeding grounds

Press Release Date

Monday, November 11, 2019
Location: Athens
Contact: Natividad Sánchez: nsanchez@oceana.org 0034 911 440 880

 

Oceana applauds decisions to increase fisheries transparency, protect threatened corals and preserve breeding grounds adopted by FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in their 43rd session. The enforcement of these measures’ package will be vital to help revert the overfishing crisis of this sea, since they will create areas where fish can reproduce safely and will hinder illegal fishing.

Mediterranean countries have taken an important step to restore the abundance of this sea and protect some of its most vulnerable wildlife. Oceana urges them now to enforce these decisions and adopt robust compliance systems including sanctions, so that these decisions are truly effective. GFCM’s credibility will be at stake as long as the Mediterranean remains the world’s most overexploited sea”, said Pascale Moehrle, executive director for Oceana Europe.

With fifteen new decisions, it is the first time that such a high number of measures are taken since GFCM was established. Oceana particularly welcomes:

  • Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing: GFCM has adopted a transparency mechanism, so that countries report annually all the fisheries agreements in force between their fleet and third countries. Additionally, the GFCM IUU list will be strengthened by adding a requirement for countries to ensure that their nationals do not support and benefit from IUU fishing.
  • Coral protection: for the first time in the Mediterranean, a regulatory framework has been adopted to set protection measures for endangered or threatened coral species from the impact of fishing. This was long-awaited after the UN called for the preservation of deep-sea habitats in 2004.
  • Protection of Essential Fish Habitats: A new management plan has been adopted in the Adriatic for hake, red mullet, sole and shrimps which includes temporal coastal closures to trawling (over 40,000 km2) to protect juvenile aggregations. The plan also foresees to identify new Fisheries Restricted Areas (FRAs) to protect additional nursery or spawning grounds of those demersal stocks.
  • Compliance in FRAs: GFCM has committed to assess the enforcement levels in all FRAs, some of which exist since 2006. Oceana has regularly documented breach of compliance, for instance documenting boats illegally fishing inside these closed areas in 2018 and 2019.

Oceana also welcomes the commitment adopted to ban single-use plastics in all GFCM meetings. GFCM is world’s first regional fisheries management organisation to adopt such kind of measure to create plastic-free zones in their future meetings. Oceana calls GFCM for leadership to encourage other international bodies, including the ICCAT and the FAO, to adopt similar commitments.

Explore the storymap: Essential Fish Habitats in the Mediterranean